Monday, December 20, 2010

The Holidays: A Time to Rejuvenate and Connect

I have a couple of holiday rules...

One is to maintain some sort of regimen. Even when you're don't have a strict workout, you should still do something - Go bike outside, go for a run, lift weights at the gym. I haven't been working out as hard lately, because I won’t go into formal training for the Ironman Louisville in August until after Christmas, but I have been having a good time rollerblading. Find an exercise you like to do, so you can fit in play time with fitness.

I also maintain normal nutrition during the holidays. Maybe not the day of, but certainly the day before and day after. I recognize that everyone will have holiday parties to deal with. For example, we just had our Cenegenics Boca Raton holiday party, and even though I had eggplant parmigiana as an appetizer, I didn’t have pasta with my fish. Have your glass of wine, sure, but don’t go overboard. Share desserts. Someone brought a gargantuan piece of chocolate cake, and there was no way a human being could eat all that! (I don’t think...) Often, people lose all of their discipline in December and feel bad the first day of January. Your resolution should be: Don't make resolutions! Don’t let the month of December be the month where you fall apart. We all fall off the wagon, especially during the season, but you pay the price when you try to get back into your routine.

So, again, play a little more, do some fun things. If you have free time, walk on the beach in the morning before the sun rises. Instead of running on the road, go run in the woods. Keep active. Five-year-olds have the best life; They run and play and nap. This is your time to run and play and nap. Enjoy your family and enjoy being around friends. It's a great time for goal-setting. Not as a resolution, but to think of what you really want to achieve in th next few years. Do you want to walk for charity? Spend more time at the beach? Learn how to play the guitar?

Maybe take every Saturday completely off, with no Blackberry or iPad. Just don’t turn it on. Yesterday, I was putting up Christmas lights, and I couldn’t even tell you if it rang. Some days you just shouldn’t care. Most times, it’s not going to be an emergency. My significant other, France, never wears a watch. It’s really interesting how she lives her life unattached to time. Now, when I go on long motorcycle rides, I never wear a watch. It’s the most freeing thing you can imagine. Don’t be connected to time, be connected to people.

I go to church around Christmas, but I tend to follow a more spiritual path, whether it's Kabbalah or shamanic rituals (I studied with a shaman for 10 years). I’m very convinced that people need to connect to rituals, whether it’s with your family, in your community or religious. It’s very important for your human-ness to connect to ritual. Even at our office party, we have a ritual where the staff goes out to dinner and we have a gift exchange and we bid on the items. It turns into a battle royale, where we all laugh and have a good time. This holiday, the battle was for lingerie, even though it's normally over a big bottle of vodka. But, everyone always goes home with one gift. Last year, I took home a Rastafarian hat. This year, I re-gifted it so that it would always be a tradition to include it at our holiday party.

This Christmas, I'm looking forward to my daughters are coming home, so we can walk on the beach in the morning and just enjoy Christmas together. I’ll definitely be on my motorcycle a little bit, and I’ll be outside for a lot of the holidays. My goal is to not even look at my computer for 4 or 5 days. Then, when Christmas is over, I’ll be ready to get into more discipline with my routine.

I wish everyone a peaceful and happy holiday season.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Memories From the Ironman Arizona

The Ironman Arizona was an unforgettable experience. It motivated me to push myself to new heights, inspired me to continue challenging myself even after the race was over, and, most importantly, showed others that anything is possible. Here are some of my memories from that experience...

Registration Day

I ran into Jeff Flocker, a former athlete I trained years ago!

Getting marked for the race.

Drying my numbers.

Taking my bike to the transition zone...

...And getting a flat tire before I even got started.

Pre-Race Meeting

My son, Bob, his wife, Michele, and my grandson Chaze.

France, me and Bob at pre-race meeting.

Pre-Race Load: "Oh, no! He's eating pasta!"

"Oh, no! She's eating pasta too!"

Race Morning

Me and my son, Bob, on race day.

Just before getting into the water...

Bob and I entering the water together.

Here we go!

Swim Start - incredible.

Just before having to quit.

End of day.

The Next Day

My son, bob, his wife, Michele, my grandson, Chaze, and my daughter Michele.

France and Cactus

Now that the Ironman Arizona 2010 is complete, I'm going to keep setting goals, keeping my sights set on the big one - The Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. My next stop? Ironman Louisville in August, 2011.
What about you? I'd love to hear about your goals and stories, anything from the decision to take the stairs at work to attempting a world record. We can all motivate and inspire each other with our successes, large and small.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Taper Time

I can’t believe I’m already 12 days away from Ironman Arizona.

This week and next week, the main focus will be on keeping myself healthy, eating well and tapering my workouts. Instead of going for a 10-mile run, for example, I’ll go for a 5-mile run at a faster pace to increase the intensity. Swimming continues to be a problem because the ocean has been so rough lately, but I’ve managed to go in the ocean with my wetsuit on. In the Ironman, you only use a wetsuit if the water is below 78 degrees, so you really never know if you’re going to use a wetsuit. That’s why I love the Ironman – you never know what to expect!

I’m currently in Las Vegas, which has temperatures similar to Arizona, and even though it’s 54 degrees, it feels like 35 – and windy. The cooler temperatures should actually help my performance, except for in the water. If you come out of the water and are riding your bike wet, your body temperature can go down too much. Your muscles can cramp more and it can slow down your progress. But every temperature extreme comes with its own set of problems.

The whole experience has been a lot of fun, and I realize that triathlons are something I’m going to be doing for a long time. Going in, I had no expectations. I began living by the motto of, “Just do it.” I am very, very excited to be going. My son and I have been talking about what to bring and what to wear, what to carry, different types of fluids we can use to replenish our bodies. That’s the thing: A lot has changed in the last 26 years. The modern technology is wonderful, especially bicycle technology. Being aerodynamic on the bike makes it so much easier. You’re able to ride a bike for 100 miles, then get off and go for a run. Nutrition technology has changed, too. We now use different fuels, not just water, and know more about when to eat and how to combine carbs and proteins.

I’ll be going to Arizona next Monday, because it’s always good to get there 4 or 5 days ahead of time. I didn’t even rent a car because I’m going to take time to go on the course and see what it’s like, and hopefully swim in the lake a bit. I’m really thrilled that I got to this place, and want to continue to remind others to set goals, big or small, throughout your life. It’s a critical factor in the way you feel about life in general. You may even surprise yourself.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Leaner & Stronger, With 3 Weeks To Go Until Ironman Arizona

On the road again... Today, I'm on my way back to Florida from New Jersey after giving a talk to the Young President’s Organization. My training has been going well for the past few weeks - when I'm able to train. My travel schedule is really making it difficult. I’ve missed quite a few workouts in the past two weeks, but when I do work out I feel good. This weekend, I plan on having a long run, a long swim and a long bike to give me a better idea as to where I am in training. My swimming is my weakest area, and the first part of the event. The weather, lately, has prevented me from swimming in the ocean, so I’d like to try more open water swimming to see what it feels like.

Physically, I’m getting strong and dropping weight. I’ve lost over 20 lbs – I haven’t worn 34 jeans in quite a while! My weight is just under 200 lbs, and my fat is about 22% whereas before it was in the high 20s. I’m looking to peak in my training this week, then I’ll taper and take it easy in a rest phase for the last 10 days before the triathlon.

My nutrition is great; I’ve liberalized my diet to include healthy carbs like whole wheat pasta and bread, couscous, brown rice, and sweet potatoes when I need them, because I need the fuel for my recovery. I try to find healthy alternatives rather than skip meals when traveling, and I need more calories than what salad offers. So sometimes I grab a turkey panini or sandwich. I try to eat every 2 or 3 hours, which isn't always possible with job challenges like patients and conference calls.

The lifestyle you lead can really make it tough to stick to training, but the goal is to do the best you can. My girlfriend, France, is really supportive on tough mornings. She says, “Get out of bed, you have a job to do!” In the 80s, there were days I didn’t feel like training and I had no one there to support me. Franz has been there to support me nutritionally, and every other way, when I want to give in to the demons. It’s been fun to have someone make a joke of it while still being supportive.

I’m a little more empathetic to people who can't complete the Ironman, but do the best they can. It’s a lifestyle, not an event. I’ll go to Arizona with an open mind and do the best I can... It’s just the beginning of my journey back to Hawaii. I’ve had dreams about Ironman, Hawaii. I watched the event a few days ago on TV and remembered every turn and every hill. When I watched it, I had tremendous recall for what happened every step of the way, and what my thoughts were.

I’m definitely feeling like a triathlete again.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Morning in the Life of An Ironman

Watch me on a typical Friday morning as I swim, run and bike my way closer to the Ford Ironman Arizona on November 21 - all before starting my day at the office. Video captured at my home on Friday, October 9.

The Beginning of My Journey Back to Kona, Hawaii

Let me tell you a little bit about myself... Who I am, where I come from, and, most importantly, where I'm going. Plus, what exactly goes through the mind of a 69-year-old training for the Ford Ironman Arizona? Find out in video captured on Friday, October 2, in my office at Cenegenics Boca Raton.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

This Week: Putting the 'Eat' in Triathlete

Friday, September 24

It was fantastic to be able to train in Las Vegas this week, although riding the “little hills" was a humbling experience. I forgot how hard it was to ride up a mountain! The weather here is outstanding. It’s dry, and about 66 degrees in the morning. Since the race is in Arizona, the temperatures are very similar. The sun comes up early enough that you can get out at 6 a.m., when I bike and run in the hills. I had a really good ride of 60 miles on Sunday. Overall, I trained Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

With all my training, I did get a blister from my new running shoes. That’s why you buy them early, so you can train in them. I have it covered up for now, so I can cycle, but not run. Physically, I’m feeling good. I’m still a little congested from last week, but it’s almost completely cleared. My energy is really good. These next 8weeks have to be really intense, with a focus on running and swimming

I’m currently 15 pounds above my ideal racing weight at 200 pounds. I need to get to 180 or 185, which will happen easily if I keep my diet clean. I weighed 155 in my first Ironman, a stark difference. I’m a lot more muscular than I was 26 years ago. Even in the 14 marathons I did before that, my weight was only between 170-180.

I was actually a strict vegan at my first triathlon. I started incorporating meat when I moved to Boca Raton, where there aren't many vegetarian restaurants. I haven’t eaten beef or pork since 1977. Even tuna looks too much like steak to me, so I eat white fish or trout or salmon instead. I can’t stand the smell or consistency or ground meat, like hamburgers or even turkey burgers... The one exception are the ground chicken meatballs from Whole Foods.

Normally, I eat 5 meals a day (3 meals and 2 snacks), but it’s tough to get good snacks while traveling. Plus, in Vegas, you have to drink a lot more water all day long because of the dry climate. So I’ve been drinking less coffee, more water. I have to have completely clean my nutrition up for the next few weeks.

This Week's Diet Log

Breakfast: A spinach omelet (8 egg whites and 3 whole eggs or 6 egg whites and 2 whole eggs) with one slice of whole grain toast and 2 cups of coffee

Midmorning Snack: Nuts and fruit, or pure protein like turkey slices. Today I had chicken salad around 11 a.m

Lunch: Protein, no carbs. Salmon, turkey breasts or chicken with salad or 1 vegetable

Mid-Afternoon Snack: Unfortunately I've been pretty lax with my snacks this week, due to travel. One day I even had 2 slices of pizza, which is really unusual for me. I usually opt for nuts and apples, or a protein bar on rare occasion. (You’re much better off if you can get turkey slices from a deli or some tuna, because artificial proteins don’t fuel your body as well as real food.)

Dinner: I ate dinner in restaurants every night this week and had fish or chicken with 2 vegetables

You can still train as a vegetarian and get sufficient protein. I recommend yogurt with nuts, and a salad. Vegans can have a salad with tofu. Good options for both vegetarians and vegans are garbanzo beans, vegetarian chili, black bean soup, and lentil soup.

As I continue training and get closer to Ironman Arizona, my diet will become more strict. Every day, I try to work harder and make improvements in all aspects of my training. This has been both an experiment and experience, and I look forward to seeing the outcome.

Sometimes In Training, You Hit A Speed Bump

Friday, September 17

My schedule as the CMO of Cenegenics is usually pretty packed with travel, and this week was certainly no exception. I left Boca Raton, Florida, to travel to Washington for my Kabbalah studies, Cenegenics Chicago and the Cenegenics headquarters in Las Vegas, all in one week. On my way back from Washington, I got hit with a cold. I was totally out of training from Saturday to Tuesday, and even though I started back slowly, training has been limp.

When I resumed training on Tuesday, I swam a half mile in the pool, followed by a 15-mile bike ride (when I ideally would have done a long ride between 70 and 100 miles). On Wednesday, I ran for an hour in the morning, then flew to the Cenegenics in Chicago, where I'm able to do laps in the hotel pool. Although I normally would have trained about 16 hours this week, I only ended up up training 4. Next week, I should be able to put in 18 to 20 hours of training in Las Vegas, where I’ll have access to pool and a bike. I’m looking forward to it because Vegas has same climate as Arizona, which will put me in training mode.

Over the next 8 weeks, my training will be more intense. Week 9 will be a rest week, then there’s the event. But if I feel like I’m piqued on week 7, I’ll taper week 8 and 9. You always let your body recover from trauma and injury for 1-2 weeks to go into the event rested. Nothing you do in that week will change the event. You’re either ready…or start training for the next race.

On a scale of 1 to 10 of how busy my schedule currently is, I'm at a 12. It's challenging to find time to train. But that’s the life of a triathlete, you learn to live with it. So, I try to do my training in the morning, before the sun is up, or at night when no one else is out.

My advice to anyone trying to reach a physical goal, or any goal, is to learn that adversity is part of the game in all aspects of life. Just roll with the punches and go with the flow. Sometimes your mind is clear, but your situation doesn't allow your body to follow suit. Don’t beat yourself up, just stay focused and keep moving. We're not all pro athletes, we find ways to fit training into our lives. I’d like to be able to say to never let work interfere with your training, but the bottom line is that life goes on all around you. You have to find a way to fit it in. It is always possible to train and live a full life.

One Man's Journey From Kona to Kona

Friday, September 10

If you've found yourself on my blog, you're already one step closer to making a change in your life.

I'm Robert D. Willix, M.D., CEO of Cenegnics Boca Raton. I'm 69 years young and training for my second Ironman exactly 26.2 years after my first, an interesting twist of fate (Note to soon-to-be triathletes: The running portion of Ironman is 26.2 miles). I'm here to show you that, throughout life, you can and should set goals for yourself, whether you are 25 or 75. Goals do not all have to be physical, you can set goals to slow down your mind or to improve your diet, or you can aim to reinvent yourself spiritually and emotionally. All of these components are part of the whole package.

I completed my first Ironman at age 43 on October 6, 1984, in Kona, Hawaii. Watching the Ironman on TV the year before, I witnessed Paula Newby-Fraser collapse and literally drag herself across the finish line. I thought, “What could make someone want something so bad that they would put themselves through such agony just to finish?" I had to find out. I trained rigorously, and placed about 550th out of 1,100 athletes with a time of about 13 hours and 26 minutes. I learned then that finishing is never as important as the road you take to get there.

I haven’t attempted another triathlon since 1984. When training for the Ironman in 1985, I was hit by a car and was in a brace for 18 months. I didn’t think I’d ever even want to compete again; it’s just too physically demanding. But I was ultimately inspired by my son. He completed the Ironman last year, at the same age I was during my first Ironman. He struggled, really struggled, to get through it. Being reminded of that struggle, first through Paula Newby-Fraser then through my son, gave me the bug. This year, we'll be entering the Ironman Arizona together.

People try to convince me to do a shorter triathlon before the Ironman. They say, “Can’t you just run a 10K?” My answer is, “No! Because I think I can do the Ironman.” My only goal is to get through it, period. The big question is whether my body can put in the same miles at 69 as it did at 43. But when I feel like my legs just can’t turn the bicycle pedal again, my mind kicks in and says, “Yes you can. You’ve done it before, and you’re going to do it again.”

Some people say it’s ridiculous to attempt such an enormous goal at 69. Well, I like ridiculous. Come back every week to stay posted on my progress, and be a part of my first steps back to Kona, Hawaii (the home of the Ironman World Championship) in my marathon of life.